Monday, May 31, 2004

Memorial Day

So don't forget.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Talk About Overkill

One last thing before my weekend starts (almost an hour early). I don't know if you caught the story about the kid who was embarrassed by his basketball coach when he recieved the "Crybaby Award" at the team banquet.

Well here is the aftermath.

"Ousted Pleasantville Middle School coach James Guillen presented Terrence Philo Jr. with a certificate, a trophy and the first-ever Terrence Philo Jr. Award.

"'I would like to extend a special apology to the Terrence Philo family,' Guillen told the boy in front of about 250 of his cheering classmates. He blamed his error last month on 'my lack of experience as a coach and as a teacher.'"

I don't know about you guys, but I think having a special apology ceremony in my honor and then receiving and award NAMED AFTER MYSELF would be a lot more embarrasing than getting teased because I was "always pleading to get into games."

But anyway, good for Terrence. I couldn't even make my 8th grade team. And guess what - I cried. Damn you Coach Cook.
Question for the Holiday Weekend

I saw this earlier today, but didn't get a chance to post it until now. I wanted to make it a "Question of the Day," but since its now 4:00pm EST I'll make it the Question of the Weekend.

Is the world run by C- students? Bush said earlier this month that he was living proof that things work out well for C students. I guess he wasn't kidding. But if the world is run by the average, where are all the brainiacs (besides, of course, in Madison, WI)?

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Colorado Football Scandal

Jason Whitlock claims to have the answer to the drama in Boulder. He fails to realize that forbidding alcohol consumption by student-athletes would eliminate all sports at Colorado. Who would sign up to play anything when you can't drink in college? The only way that BYU gets away with it is because most of their athletes presumably take their religion seriously.

But I think Whitlock knows Colorado won't be taking his suggestion. He was really trying to comment on the problems of college drinking and he has a great point. College kids who binge drink do crazy things like try to tie up their friends with duct tape. I just hope Whitlock isn't trying to divert any responsibility from the players who committed these sexual assaults, because blaming the booze doesn't go very far.
Funny pictures

Here's a site with some hilarious photos of Bush and and his Cronies. And for the less astute readers - the pics aren't real.

Via Leiter
Is This Going To Involve Sipowicz's Ass In Any Way?

Jimmy Breslin, who I haven't mentioned in a while, has some interesting things to say about turning evidence. In this case, it regards the Abu Ghraib prison tortures. Who's gonna give up whom? And how far up will it go?

If you happen to be from the South, please don't get offended by Breslin. I hate it, too, but he's largely right. Unfortunately.
How The Son Never Rose

Mmmmm, that's good satire! From Ghana, here's a story about the miserable failure of a president we have. Enjoy.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Good Lord

Can anyone send some good news my way? I just read about this poor bastard that the Army is scapegoating. I'm so glad I don't work for the DoD anymore. Woo hoo!
Tales Of The Obvious

Goerge Bush is a national security disaster.

The International Institute of Strategic Studies is not a liberal institution. But they do tell us that

[T]he Iraq conflict "has arguably focused the energies and resources of al-Qaida and its followers while diluting those of the global counterterrorism coalition that appeared so formidable" after the Afghan intervention, the survey said.

The U.S. occupation of Iraq brought al-Qaida recruits from across Islamic nations, the study said. Up to 1,000 foreign Islamic fighters have infiltrated Iraqi territory, where they are cooperating with Iraqi insurgents, the survey said.

Efforts to defeat al-Qaida will take time and might accelerate only if there are political developments that now seem elusive, such as the democratization of Iraq and the resolution of conflict in Israel, it said.

It could take up to 500,000 U.S. and allied troops to effectively police Iraq and restore political stability, IISS researcher Christopher Langton told the news conference.

Thanks, George!
Can Somebody Please Tell Me What The Hell This Is Supposed To Mean?

Headline in the LA Times today: U.S. Emphasizes Intent to Transfer Full Power to Iraqis -- With Limits.

Huh? I'll leave it to you guys to read the article. In this case, however, I think the headline is enough.
Something From Jon's Town

Here's an op-ed piece in the Boston Globe that's worth a read. I couldn't make an excerpt of any of it and do it justice. Please go read the whole thing.
And It Just Keeps Coming

Don't believe that BS from the Bush people about "bad apples." Go read this Seattle Post-Intelligencer article.

A former military police officer said in a television interview broadcast Monday that he was severely beaten while posing as a detainee during a January 2003 training exercise at Guantanamo Bay.

Sean Baker, a former member of the 438th Military Police Company, said he played the role of a prisoner and was beaten so badly by four U.S. soldiers that he suffered a traumatic brain injury and seizures.

That really makes me want to go re-up.
Roll Up And That's An Invitation

The Magical History Tour is coming to take you away!

Bush, being Bush, thinks abstractions and good intentions will conquer such unpleasant facts [enumerated earlier in the article]. To Bush, they aren't even facts; they're illusions. The reality is the great narrative of the war on terror, whose infallible course is set by a higher power. "The way forward may sometimes appear chaotic; yet our coalition is strong, and our efforts are focused and unrelenting, and no power of the enemy will stop Iraq's progress," Bush insisted tonight. Close your eyes, and you can almost see it.

William Saletan is on point.
Can This Be Right?

The New York Times has apparently decided that it is tired of being part of the Bush propaganda machine (four and a half years too late, if you ask me). They've actually started doing journalism with respect to Bush's campaign ads. Better late than never, I suppose.

Contrary to this advertisement's claim, Mr. Kerry has not called for the repeal of the act's expanded use of wiretaps and other surveillance tools in terrorism investigations. He has, rather, called for a greater level of judicial oversight.

This isn't an opinion piece by someone who doesn't like Bush. It's an examination and fact-checking of one of Bush's campaign ads. It's actual journalism. And, though it shouldn't be, it's quite refreshing.
George Bush Lies Again

No surprise there. It's just that his lies are so bad, and so obvious. In his "Abu Grabby" speech the other night, he claimed that the torture of prisoners in Abu Ghraib was done "by a few American troops who disregarded our country and disregarded our values."

Well of course that's just not true.

I get the feeling that the Army has been taking notes from several Catholic dioceses in this country. If something bad happens, lie, evade, and transfer personnel. For god's sakes, though, don't actually do anything about it outside of the barest minimum of grudging public contrition. You can read all about it here in the NYT. Just one more thing: "The cases from Iraq date back to April 15, 2003...and they extend up to last month."

I'm proud to be an American. Aren't you?

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

What An Age We Live In

Brenda, who is very high in the running for the title of Coolest Person In The Entire Freakin' World, sent this article my way.

Wow. Fascinating, clever, and more than a little frightening.

Should this be successful, and should it be made available, would it be expensive? Would it go where it's needed (that is, Africa)? Could you even prescribe a virus that's going to stay with someone and be transmitted to other people? Wouldn't that drive Pfizer and Eli Lilly mad? Is it possible to have the "new" virus but be HIV-free? There are all kinds of crazy legal issues, too--what happens when someone gets the HIV-inhibitor virus but doesn't want it? What happens to a patent, if one is even obtainable, when this little thing starts spreading? Could someone get sued for having sex and passing along Dr. Arkin's creation? Good lord, it boggles the mind. My mind, anyway. Which might not be saying much.

Anyway, let us know what you think.
Do Yourself A Favor

Go read Tom Tomorrow today.

You'll thank me later.
Encouraging Stuff

I like maps. I really like this one.

Iowa is a puzzle, though. According to the WSJ state-by-state breakdown, "Insurance and health care are big concerns," but "the state's elderly were firmly behind Mr. Bush in May." It's the only one of the states that went from a Democratic to a Republican leaning.

However, I like this map. A lot.
Asylum Inmates Say The Darndest Things

I found this little gem at BartCop the other day, and tried to post it, but Blogger wasn't playing nice. Anyway, here it is:

"So total war is the demand of the hour. . . The danger facing us is enormous. The efforts we take to meet it must be just as enormous. . . The rest of Europe should at least work to support us. Those who do not understand this fight today will thank us on bended knee tomorrow that we took it on! "
--Joseph Goebbels, clearly insane, February 18, 1943

"If we just let our vision of the world go forth, and we embrace it entirely, and we don't try to piece together clever diplomacy but just wage a total war, our children will sing great songs about us years from now."
--Richard Perle, clearly insane, January 31, 2002

Interesting, no?

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Speaking Of John Ashcroft (R-Choad)

His assault on the First Amendment received a setback the other day. From the Voice of America (the irony of this source, I hope, is not lost on any of you), we get the following:

A federal judge in Miami, Florida has dismissed charges against the environmental organization Greenpeace, saying the group was not guilty of violating an obscure 19th century law designed to prevent the interruption of commerce. Greenpeace lawyers say the dismissal of charges is a victory for free speech.


Just two days into the case a federal judge dismissed the charges saying there was no evidence the ship was about to arrive at its destination - the port of Miami. Greenpeace lawyer David Halperin says the not guilty verdict is a victory for free speech in the United States.

"The real importance of the case as we have been saying from the beginning is, it is the first time in the history of the United States that the government has prosecuted an organization for free speech related activities and in our view that is not an appropriate thing," he said.

"For 230 years since the Boston Tea Party and through the civil rights movement the government has arrested and sometimes prosecuted individuals who wanted to stand up for their beliefs and engage in public protest," he added, "but they never went after an organization. And the reason is that if you go after organizations you may cripple the entire process of free speech and public protest."

Note, however, that the judge threw out the case NOT because of the ridiculousness of the government's claim, but because "there was no evidence the ship was about to arrive at its destination." Well, I suppose a win is a win.

Any comments, Jon?
It's Not Abuse, It's Torture

Part XVII. I haven't been on this story in a while for a number of reasons, the two most salient of which are that I was terribly busy and I just couldn't stand it anymore. However, there's another terrible revelation today.

They were just having fun? Fun? I so hope these people go to prison themselves, and then understand what it's like being on the other side of the fun.

When the Iraq fiasco is all over, I think that things like this will be recognized as having really lost it:

Darby quoted Graner, a former Pennsylvania prison guard, as saying: "The Christian in me says it's wrong, but the corrections officer in me says, 'I love to make a grown man piss himself."'

Abu Ghraib prison should be evacuated and blown to smithereens for starters.

Then, the military needs publicly to allow independent organizations to inspect ALL of its prisons, from Afghanistan to Iraq to (especially) Guantanamo. All of the crap they taught us in school about the moral superiority of the US has been demolished, but that doesn't mean that we need to wallow in degeneracy.

Additionally, it seems to me as if Congress needs to start up some serious prison investigations in this country. I'm not sure that Mr. Graner's attitude can be taken as representative of prison guards in general, but the casualness with which he made that statement at least implies that such behavior is okay in the Pennsylvania prison where he formerly worked. And I'm pretty sure that abuse and torture of prisoners is fairly widespread (Note: I realize that a lot of people who go to prison have done awful, awful things. However, that does not mean that treating them inhumanely is okay--especially if you want to have them successfully re-enter society at some future date).

Finally, George Bush and his administration have to go. They started looking for loopholes in international law from the beginning, so they knew what they were doing was illegal. I have a sinking feeling that this Administration's torture powwows will be compared to the Wannsee Conference by future historians. And that just makes me sick.

It does seem, though, that some members of the House Judiciary Committe (including my representative, Tammy Baldwin) are calling John Ashcroft (R-Choad) on his possible involvement. It's a PDF file, so you need Adobe to read it--but it's so worth it. Oh, and Maxine Waters and Robert Wexler signed in the wrong spots. Oops!

Friday, May 21, 2004

Criticizing Bush = Putting Troops at Risk?

Apparently this equation is the Republican tactic these days. Right Mr. DeLay? The real problem is that people eat this up. If a Republican leader like DeLay says that the Democrats put troops at risk when the criticize the war, you better believe that it's repeated at home, at work and in local editorial pages by faithful right-wingers everywhere. It reinforces this sad idea that any criticism of America or its leaders is unpatriotic, when infact it is because Democrats do love this country and its principles that they speak up.

It seems to me that what has really put our troops at risk was starting this war without real international support, allowing (or ordering) troops to torture Iraqi prisoners, and not having any concept of the people or culture that we invaded. But maybe I'm putting troops at risk by pointing all this out.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Election 2004

This piece by Hal Crowther really says it all. E-mail the link to everyone you know, irrespective of political persuasion. The money quote:

This [election] is a referendum on George W. Bush, arguably the worst thing that has happened to the United States of America since the invention of the cathode ray tube.

Of course, there's more than that. The article is chock full of good stuff.

Kerry made a courageous choice at least once in his life, when he came home with his ribbons and demonstrated against the war in Vietnam. But Sen. Kerry could turn out to be a stiff, a punk, an alcoholic and he'd still be a colossal improvement over the man who turned Paul Wolfowitz loose in the Middle East. The myth that there was no real difference between Democrats and Republicans, which I once considered seriously and which Ralph Nader rode to national disaster four years ago, was shattered forever the day George Bush announced his cabinet and his appointments for the Department of Defense.

And then we have:

I struggle against the suspicion that so many of my fellow Americans are conceptually challenged. I want to reason with my neighbors, I want to engage these lost Americans. What makes you angry, neighbor? What arouses your suspicions? Does it bother you that this administration made terrorism a low priority, dismissed key intelligence that might have prevented the 9-11 catastrophe, then exploited it to justify the pre-planned destruction of Saddam Hussein, who had nothing to do with al Qaeda? All this is no longer conjecture, but direct reportage from cabinet-level meetings by the turncoat insiders Richard Clarke and Paul O'Neill.


Does it bother you even a little that the personal fortunes of all four Bush brothers, including the president and the governor, were acquired about a half step ahead of the district attorney, and that the royal family of Saudi Arabia invested $1.476 billion in those and other Bush family enterprises? Or, as Paul Krugman points out, that it's much easier to establish links between the Bush and bin Laden families than any between the bin Ladens and Saddam Hussein. Do you know about Ahmad Chalabi, the administration's favorite Iraqi and current agent in Baghdad, whose personal fortune was established when he embezzled several hundred million from his own bank in Jordan and fled to London to avoid 22 years at hard labor?


I don't think it's accurate to describe America as polarized between Democrats and Republicans, or between liberals and conservatives. It's polarized between the people who believe George Bush and the people who do not. Thanks to some contested ballots in a state governed by the president's brother, a once-proud country has been delivered into the hands of liars, thugs, bullies, fanatics and thieves. The world pities or despises us, even as it fears us. What this election will test is the power of money and media to fool us, to obscure the truth and alter the obvious, to hide a great crime against the public trust under a blood-soaked flag. The most lavishly funded, most cynical, most sophisticated political campaign in human history will be out trolling for fools. I pray to God it doesn't catch you.

Somebody nominate this man for a Pulitzer.

Monday, May 17, 2004

I can't help it

I know it's too early but I'm so excited about football season, I've already started thinking about my fantasy team! Feel free to drop off your hints, picks, and hunches.
Big News

I've thought about heading downtown to witness this history in the making... but I'm through with school and my laziness has increased exponentially since handing in my last paper Friday. I think I'll just go eat some Malaysian food.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Well, That Was Something

So I finished my first year of graduate school.

I feel tired, happy, and significantly dumber than I did a year ago. I think it's the drowning-in-BS that has me down.

Well, only six to eight more years to go! Woo hoo!

Friday, May 14, 2004


That is, What Would Greenpeace pimp?

I don't even know how this kind of thing gets as far as it does. So were Bishop Don "Magic" Juan, Rosebudd, Fillmore Slim, and Charm out there with the Greenpeace crew? In terms of outright laughability, this case is up there with the woman who sued McDonald's after spilling hot coffee on herself.

The case is unprecedented, not just because of the bizarre nature of the crime.

Six Greenpeace activists were charged after the 2002 protest in choppy waters off Miami, pleaded guilty and sentenced to time served -- the weekend they spent in jail.

But U.S. prosecutors were not satisfied, and 15 months later came up with a grand jury indictment of the entire organization for sailor mongering.


U.S. prosecutors argue Greenpeace did something like that when two "climbers" clambered aboard the Jade to hang a sign demanding, "President Bush: Stop Illegal Logging."

If convicted, Greenpeace could be placed on probation, and pay a $10,000 fine.

As significant as the prosecution itself, are the implications, free speech campaigners say.

Not once since the Boston Tea Party have U.S. authorities criminally prosecuted a group for political expression.

I'd like to thank John Ashcroft (R-Choad) for concentrating on rounding up terrorists, rather than picking on some starry-eyed environmental protestors. Oh, wait--did I get that backwards again?

Again, you cross the famiglia, you pay.

They're having a great day at the Conspiracy. This is one of my favorite sites because they do a great job of mixing interesing legal and political posts with clever quips. Be sure to check out David Bernstein's "Cool T-Shirt" post and Eugene Volokh's "Sanctionable?" post.

And if anyone wants to buy me a T-Shirt that says "Christian Infidel" in Arabic, my birthday is in July.
Sidney Blumenthal

Oy. Dissension in the ranks.

William Odom, a retired general and former member of the National Security Council who is now at the Hudson Institute, a conservative thinktank, reflects a wide swath of opinion in the upper ranks of the military. "It was never in our interest to go into Iraq," he told me. It is a "diversion" from the war on terrorism; the rationale for the Iraq war (finding WMD) is "phoney"; the US army is overstretched and being driven "into the ground"; and the prospect of building a democracy is "zero". In Iraqi politics, he says, "legitimacy is going to be tied to expelling us. Wisdom in military affairs dictates withdrawal in this situation. We can't afford to fail, that's mindless. The issue is how we stop failing more. I am arguing a strategic decision."

One high-level military strategist told me that Rumsfeld is "detested", and that "if there's a sentiment in the army it is: Support Our Troops, Impeach Rumsfeld".

You get the impression that Rummy keeps large metal ball bearings in his pocket, and is overly concerned about who ate the strawberries? I do.

If Rummy and his cabal really believed in building Iraqi democracy, they were, at best, self-deluded fools. They took an unjustifiable risk, and they have failed (Note that they never publicly acted, and still don't act, as if their venture were at all risky). If they knew it was a sham all along, then they, along with the White House, wove an elaborate gossamer web of lies that held just long enough to get the US stuck in Iraq for a decade. The first scenario reveals incompetence; the second, criminal actions on a massive scale.
No, Seriously

I'd almost feel sorry for Donald Rumsfeld (R-Bizarro World), but then I think about what a prick he is.

He got grilled by the troops in Baghdad yesterday. They put it to him, too.

One soldier asked when they would receive improved vests and better armor for the Humvees. It's those roadside bombs, he said. "We lost some soldiers due to them."

Another asked whether it was true that the military would not pay their full air fare back home.

Yet another wanted to know why his military medical coverage wouldn't handle physical therapy for his handicapped child.

When, if ever, would the United Nations send some troops and where would they come from?

Would Defense Department employees who are civilians working with the military be permitted to carry guns, asked a civilian working with the military?

Finally, one courageous individual remarked: "You have said you would like to reduce the number of troops in Iraq. Instead, more troops are being sent."

Interestingly, he did get a standing ovation after his bumbling, clueless answers. Go figure.
I'm super busy, but...

...this made my day!

Thursday, May 13, 2004


This poll was taken earlier this year. I just don't know what to say about the results.

Quick breakdown:

Percent of those polled who believe the Bible story of Noah and the ark is:

Literally true: 60% Not literally true: 33% No opinion: 7%

Percent of those polled who believe the six-day creation story is:

Literally true: 61% Not literally true: 30% No opinion: 8%

Percent of those who think that the story of the Red Sea parting is:

Literally true: 64% Not literally true: 28% No opinion: 8%

Wow. According to the US Census Bureau, the current population of the US is estimated to be just over 293 million. Thus, assuming that the above polling data is representative (they did have a sample size of 1011, and claim a +/- 3% MoE), anywhere between 176 and 188 million people share the sentiments of those polled.

This despite the existence of abundant evidence showing that the universe is ancient in the extreme, and that the "Red Sea" of the Bible is a well-documented mistranslation of a Hebrew phrase meaning "Sea of Reeds" (I won't get started on the implausibility of the ark story). I don't mean to take away from the power of those stories; they provide majestic themes and trenchant insight into the human condition. In addition, their frameworks have been incorporated into our culture, and knowledge of those stories facilitates analysis of cultural idees fixes.

However, to accept them as literally true, when so much evidence argues against that position, seems to be a rather puzzling (and indeed frightening) way to approach the world.

Oh, well, since when did people let facts stand in the way of what they want to believe?

In This Style 10/6

Instead of my previous characterization of "Rumsfeld (R-Idiot)," I'm thinking of changing it to "Rumsfeld (R-10/6)" or "Rumsfeld (R-Tea Party)" or "Rumsfeld (R-Mad Hatter)." Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Why, you might ask, is this change necessary? The answer is in today's New York Times:

The government lawyers argue that releasing such materials would violate a Geneva Convention stricture against presenting images of prisoners that could be construed as degrading, Rumsfeld said while en route to the Iraqi capital on a trip that was not announced in advance due to security concerns.

Yes. Releasing more pictures of US MP's and Military Intelligence types torturing Iraqis would violate the Geneva convention rules against showing humiliating images of individuals. Uh, Rummy? Last I checked, the Geneva convention also prohibited torturing prisoners, not just releasing pictures of them. Orwell would be so proud of these guys.

Elsewhere in the NYT, we find a continuation of the US press' refusal to call things what they are. "Harsh methods," they say. Yeah, I'd imagine that holding someone under water so that he thinks he's gonna drown is harsh. I'd also say that IT'S TORTURE, but I'm kind of a softy that way, I suppose.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

What was that about the Dark Ages?

Just to reaffirm Jude's point read this.

The gay marriage debate has been going strong in Massachusetts for a couple of years now. Next week, marriages will be legal, but according to Gov. Romney, only for Massachusetts residents. I've been so busy I haven't been able to check much of this out. However, I do know that the court's opinion allowing gay marriages rested on the Massachusetts Constitution, not the U.S. Constitution. That might be significant, maybe not, I haven't investigated enough. Anyone who knows more can drop a comment to clear this up.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Oh Dear Lord

We've really re-entered the dark ages.

WARNING: Do not click on the link if you are squeamish. It doesn't have any pictures, but the prose description is enough.

I don't know how many of you like the Chapelle Show, but I sure do. I also like lil Jon and the Eastside Boys. Therefore I like this webpage.

From stereogum, via leftpedal.

Just to echo Jude's last post - I agree that the press should be using the word "torture." It seems strange to me since the press really jumped on top of the story that they would continually downplay the events by calling them abuse. This comes from the "America can do no wrong" attitude that so many people have. The media is saying that the rest of the world may torture, but not America. We just have soldiers that made a few mistakes because they weren't trained in how to handle POWs. Well not to get up on my high horse or anything, but I've never had any training on how to treat POWs (or detainees) but I think I can safely say that I wouldn't have taken it upon myself to undress them, place them in lude poses, and photograph them. Shameful.
Things Left Unsaid

Why is it that the American press (in news articles, not in opinion columns) can't call a spade a spade?* I can understand the government wanting to avoid using the word "torture," since such practice is explicitly illegal:

In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:

1. Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.

To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

(a) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

(b) Taking of hostages;

(c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment.

(Emphasis added)

But, you might ask, since there's no official declared war going on, doesn't that nullify the Geneva Convention? Nope. Consider:
the present Convention shall apply to all cases of declared war or of any other armed conflict which may arise between two or more of the High Contracting Parties, even if the state of war is not recognized by one of them.

The Convention shall also apply to all cases of partial or total occupation of the territory of a High Contracting Party, even if the said occupation meets with no armed resistance.

Right. But, still, the US government, especially the current administration, so sensitive to image control and projection, would clearly want to avoid using the word "torture," preferring instead to employ the less-offensive term "abuse." Technically, in a denotative sense, what the Army, CIA, and those shadowy "civilian contractors" did in Abu Ghraib constitutes both "abuse" and "torture." Of course, when you start splitting hairs like that, you're in big trouble.

But what about the press? I mean, why would they want to use the Karl Rove-approved, watered down language of the White House? Look at these media outlets: New York Times, Washington Post, Reuters (though they do quote the ICRC using the word "torture"), LA Times, Boston Globe, and, of course, USA Today.

Also, I heard it on NPR this morning and on the CBS Evening News last night.

The foreign press doesn't share the timidity of the US press.

Props to Seymour Hersh (see earlier post) for using plain language. Also, the Washington Post comes close in a different article, but they still dance around applying the term to any US soldiers.

It pains me to think that anyone in the US military could so enthusiastically engage in obvious torture. It pains me to think that torture by US soldiers could happen at all, much less with glee. But using a wimpy euphemism like "abuse" simply obscures the truth, and that I don't stand for.

*The phrase "to call a spade a spade" is not racist. Prosaically, it refers to calling a shovel a shovel, and comes from at least mid-sixteenth century England, if not before then. Though the term "spade" became a racist slur in 20th century America, the phrase used here was not coined with race in mind; indeed, the 20th century conception of race was not imaginable in the 16th century.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Wolf Whistle

The case of Emmett Till is open again.

This is the sort of thing that doesn't exactly make me proud to be from Mississippi.

Writer Lewis Nordan, one of the more impressive Southern writers alive, wrote a novel based on the Till story. I don't often recommend recent fiction, but I read this one a few years ago, and it's worth a look.

Thanks to alert reader Kristy for the tip.
Unfortunately, This Is Not A Joke

I wish I could say that it was; that's the only way this statement makes any sense:

President Bush (news - web sites) strongly backed Donald Rumsfeld on Monday and said the nation owed him a debt of gratitude.

As Dave Barry would say, I an not making this up. But lord, how I wish I were.

"You're doing a superb job. You're a strong secretary of defense and our nation owes you a debt of gratitude," Bush said.

Georgie's disconnect with the world I live in is stunning. And this schmendrick is the President of the United States. Wait! I think I hear the pitter-patter of hooves. Yes! The Apocalypse is nigh!

Return To Abu Ghraib

With Seymour Hersh.

Some excerpts:

When I asked retired Major General Charles Hines, who was commandant of the Army’s military-police school during a twenty-eight-year career in military law enforcement, about these reports, he reacted with dismay. “Turning a dog loose in a room of people? Loosing dogs on prisoners of war? I’ve never heard of it, and it would never have been tolerated,” Hines said. He added that trained police dogs have long been a presence in Army prisons, where they are used for sniffing out narcotics and other contraband among the prisoners, and, occasionally, for riot control. But, he said, “I would never have authorized it for interrogating or coercing prisoners. If I had, I’d have been put in jail or kicked out of the Army.”

Further proof that Donald Rumsfeld (R-Idiot) needs to go, along with his boss:

Secrecy and wishful thinking, the Pentagon official said, are defining characteristics of Rumsfeld’s Pentagon, and shaped its response to the reports from Abu Ghraib. “They always want to delay the release of bad news—in the hope that something good will break,” he said. The habit of procrastination in the face of bad news led to disconnects between Rumsfeld and the Army staff officers who were assigned to planning for troop requirements in Iraq. A year ago, the Pentagon official told me, when it became clear that the Army would have to call up more reserve units to deal with the insurgency, “we had call-up orders that languished for thirty or forty days in the office of the Secretary of Defense.” Rumsfeld’s staff always seemed to be waiting for something to turn up—for the problem to take care of itself, without any additional troops. The official explained, “They were hoping that they wouldn’t have to make a decision.” The delay meant that soldiers in some units about to be deployed had only a few days to prepare wills and deal with other family and financial issues.

The same deliberate indifference to bad news was evident in the past year, the Pentagon official said, when the Army conducted a series of elaborate war games. Planners would present best-case, moderate-case, and worst-case scenarios, in an effort to assess where the Iraq war was headed and to estimate future troop needs. In every case, the number of troops actually required exceeded the worst-case analysis. Nevertheless, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and civilian officials in the Pentagon continued to insist that future planning be based on the most optimistic scenario. “The optimistic estimate was that at this point in time”—mid-2004—“the U.S. Army would need only a handful of combat brigades in Iraq,” the Pentagon official said. “There are nearly twenty now, with the international coalition drying up. They were wildly off the mark.” The official added, “From the beginning, the Army community was saying that the projections and estimates were unrealistic.” Now, he said, “we’re struggling to maintain a hundred and thirty-five thousand troops while allowing soldiers enough time back home.”

And, finally, the DoD has decided to bring Major General Geoffrey Miller, former commandant of US prisons in Guantanamo, to Iraq, on the pretext of "fixing" the problems with prisons there. I seem to recall some old story about not letting foxes guard a henhouse, but Rummy obviously hasn't.

[Major General Miller's] recommendation was radical: that Army prisons be geared, first and foremost, to interrogations and the gathering of information needed for the war effort. “Detention operations must act as an enabler for interrogation . . . to provide a safe, secure and humane environment that supports the expeditious collection of intelligence,” Miller wrote. The military police on guard duty at the prisons should make support of military intelligence a priority.

Man, I hope people wake the hell up between now and November.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

New Blogger Stuff

Doesn't look that different to me, but I'm just a simple man. You will see more block quotes, though. So that's something.

Sorry for the sparse posting, everyone. But I'm way up a certain smelly creek sans paddle. Soon, though, I will be back to amusing myself by thinking that I have readers to satisfy.
This Kind Of Thing

Makes me want to cry.

I'm so incredibly depressed when I read about things like this. We just haven't learned a damn thing. Armies are really good at killing and destroying--particularly the US Army. That's what it's supposed to do, and it's damn good at doing it. That being said, armies are really bad at making countries work. You'd think that we'd have learned that by now. But you'd be wrong.

"Army Maj. Gen. Charles H. Swannack Jr., the commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, who spent much of the year in western Iraq, said he believes that at the tactical level at which fighting occurs, the U.S. military is still winning. But when asked whether he believes the United States is losing, he said, 'I think strategically, we are.'

"Army Col. Paul Hughes, who last year was the first director of strategic planning for the U.S. occupation authority in Baghdad, said he agrees with that view and noted that a pattern of winning battles while losing a war characterized the U.S. failure in Vietnam. 'Unless we ensure that we have coherency in our policy, we will lose strategically,' he said in an interview Friday.

"'I lost my brother in Vietnam,' added Hughes, a veteran Army strategist who is involved in formulating Iraq policy. 'I promised myself, when I came on active duty, that I would do everything in my power to prevent that [sort of strategic loss] from happening again. Here I am, 30 years later, thinking we will win every fight and lose the war, because we don't understand the war we're in.'"

Wow. Yet it goes on.

"A senior general at the Pentagon said he believes the United States is already on the road to defeat. 'It is doubtful we can go on much longer like this,' he said. 'The American people may not stand for it -- and they should not.'

"Asked who was to blame, this general pointed directly at Rumsfeld and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz. 'I do not believe we had a clearly defined war strategy, end state and exit strategy before we commenced our invasion," he said. "Had someone like Colin Powell been the chairman [of the Joint Chiefs of Staff], he would not have agreed to send troops without a clear exit strategy. The current OSD [Office of the Secretary of Defense] refused to listen or adhere to military advice.'"

But that's not enough.

What about Congress?

"Likewise, Rep. John P. Murtha (Pa.), a former Marine who is one of most hawkish Democrats in Congress, last week said, 'We cannot prevail in this war as it is going today,' and said that the Bush administration should either boost its troop numbers or withdraw.

"Larry Diamond, who until recently was a senior political adviser of the U.S. occupation authority in Iraq, argued that the United States is not losing the war but is in danger of doing so. 'I think that we have fallen into a period of real political difficulty where we are no longer clearly winning the peace, and where the prospect of a successful transition to democracy is in doubt.'

"'Basically, it's up in the air now,' Diamond continued. 'That's what is at stake. . . . We can't keep making tactical and strategic mistakes.'"

We can't. We really, really can't.

Saturday, May 08, 2004


This hasn't gotten much attention. It seems to me like an international boycott of American business might be the one thing that would make the Bush Administration question its policies. What do you think?

Friday, May 07, 2004

They're Starting To Scare Me

Don't tell me that this wouldn't frighten you, too.

These guys just can't understand the word "no."


Hershey's Kisses FILLED WITH CARAMEL! Take my word for it, there're great.


Thursday, May 06, 2004

Someone got a spanking

Bush chastises Rumsfeld.

I mentioned this story several days ago when it broke, but I didn't say enough. This sickens me. Disgusts me. I cannot comprehend how any Americans could continue to think that we are the 'good guys' in this war. Thomas Hamill made it home alive and well and as far as I know he wasn't forced into a naked man pyramid, nor were his fundamental religous beliefs accosted by his captors. This sort of activity makes me ashamed to be an American. I can't have pride in my country when we invade another country on false pretenses, imprison civilians, and torture them.

I support our troops because they made a decision to join the armed forces believing that they would bring good things to the world. And yes Saddam is gone, another wonderful feat. But this war will cost America far more than it will give us.

Vote for Kerry.
Speaking of British Athletes

Who ran the first sub-four minute mile? I'm glad you asked.

(via page 2)

Sports Illustrated has a great little article this week by Laura Barton. I didn't find it online, and it's not worth buying a copy for so I'll just tell you about it. David Beckham, far and away the most popular athlete in the world posed for Sam Taylor-Wood, a young British artist. The "art" consists of a 67 minute video of Becks sleeping.

Barton asks "What is it about this man, with his metro-sexual style, his pop-star wife and his oddly named sons, [Brooklyn and Romeo] that holds our attention?"

Hmmm, Laura, I don't know...maybe it's because he's beautiful. The world likes beauty - there's nothing complex or artistic about it.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Bush Doesn't Apologize


And why would he? He didn't apologize for invading their country. He doesn't apologize to the families whose loved ones have died. Why start now, right?

I was reading this article (via Volokh) because I wanted to check out the GLBT gun club. But I was drawn to another part of the article - the use of the word "Redneck."

Here are the first two paragraphs:

"The basement of John Sahady's Cleveland home is his little piece of heaven: Brooks & Dunn posters. NASCAR paraphernalia. Confederate-flag bandanna signed by fellow service members. Even a pellet-gun shooting range.

"'Oh yeah, I'm a redneck kinda guy,' says Sahady, bespectacled and round in his motorcycle T-shirt. 'I don't take that to be no insult.'"

Should redneck be an insult? Is it an insult? Really, I don't know - I'm asking. Many people have been overly-sensitive about their ethnicity or sexual orientation when it comes to non-members discussing them. In the last few years we see that it's commonplace in the black community to say "the n-word." But I, as a white guy, am too afraid to say it even in this context for fear of backlash from our thousands of African-American readers. Things like that can come back to haunt you in your political career.

So where does "redneck" fall in this category? Send us your emails! Obviously in this artible the redneck liked being called reneck - but Non-rednecks seem to toss it around a lot, should they be forced to issue public apologies?
Prior Restraint

Prior restraint is the idea that governments can restrict speech, forbidding it to be said, published, or broadcast. This has been rejected by our government numerous times, most notably in the Pentagon Papers case.

The NYT has an article today about Disney's attempt to prevent Miramax from releasing Michael Moore's new film. Now obviously Disney isn't the government, but after reading about the motives behind not releasing the film, it sure seems an awful lot like they are intimidated by the government.

"Mr. Emanuel said Mr. Eisner expressed particular concern that it would endanger tax breaks Disney receives for its theme park, hotels and other ventures in Florida, where Mr. Bush's brother, Jeb, is governor."

Scary. Let's hope Mr. Eisner isn't married to a CIA operative - the Bush clan might release that information too.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Crunch Time

Its crunch time here for Jude and me so we might not be around as often.

My thought for the day - I don't want to get drafted. That would suck. Real bad.

People keep talking about what the real issues are for this election - for me its this war. I tried to think about other issues, but I can't. I'm voting for Kerry.
Bush "Bus Tour" A Fraud

Just like his "election" in 2000. Check this out.

"Tuesday's bus tour, about 60 miles through western Ohio, actually includes two airplane flights — one from Detroit to Toledo and another from Toledo to Dayton. His first two stops — Maumee and Dayton — are in counties Al Gore won in 2000. The last two stops — Lebanon and Cincinnati — are in counties that Bush won easily."

Two airplane flights. And sixty miles does not a bus tour make. Good lord.

"Getting out of Washington helps the president avoid the fate of his father, former President George H.W. Bush, who took heat during his race with Bill Clinton in 1992 for not having rapport with regular people. The first thing Bush did at stops in Michigan was to take off his suit coat."

Now that's having rapport with the people! A quick George W Bush recap: his life involves, but is not limited to being born into luxury; having one's attendance guaranteed at fine and expensive preparatory schools, Yale, and Harvard, despite less-than-mediocre academic performance; getting put at the top of a 500-man waiting list to get into the Texas Air National Guard to guarantee his not going to Vietnam; being unaccountably absent from military duty and paying no consequences; being given a string of cushy jobs because of family connections, despite repeated demonstrations of astonishing incompetence; refusing to appear before non-screened crowds, and so on.

But taking of his damn suit coat--that's establishing ties with the commoners, isn't it?

As a side note, what is this woman teaching, anyway:

"Tiffany Adamski, a community college professor from nearby Toledo, said Bush will win Ohio if he remains resolute. 'Strong stances on the issues — he needs to stick with them,' Adamski said. 'The opposition turns around and changes again.'"

It doesn't matter if you're dead wrong, as long as you don't admit that you're dead wrong. Apparently, this woman never had one of her parents ask her the old chestnut about everyone else jumping off a bridge. As long as the first person was "resolute," it looks like Ms. Adamski would not have a problem with playing lemming.
Can You Say Coverup?

The Army certainly can. As if it weren't bad enough already.

Well, it's not. Because Mississippi native Thomas Hamill, a truck driver for Halliburton, was given medical treatment by his captors. No beatings, humiliating pictures, rape, and so forth.

How did it come to this? We're now the moral inferiors of the "thugs" described by the President.

You realize, of course, that, the Abu Ghraib story will be the cause of scores of American deaths. In addition, the prison torture story, in conjunction with the entire sorry neocon "adventure" in Iraq, has made it unsafe to travel the world as an American citizen. The chances of your being kidnapped and/or killed in many parts of the world is now several orders of magnitude higher than it was in 2000.
Bremer Knew

About the torture at Abu Ghraib and he did nothing.

Why am I not surprised? How many American soldiers are going to be injured and die because of what happened at Abu Ghraib?
Punch And Jude, Setting The Tone

Does Paul Krugman read Punch and Jude?

Well, no. Pretty definitely no. But we can dream, can't we?

"You may ask whether our leaders' drive to privatize reflects a sincere conservative ideology, or a desire to enrich their friends. Probably both. But before Iraq, privatization that rewarded campaign contributors was a politically smart move, even if it was a net loss for the taxpayers.

In Iraq, however, reality does matter. And thanks to the ideologues who dictated our policy over the past year, reality looks pretty grim."

Man, this guy hits on all cylinders.

And while you're looking around at the NYT, check out this article about the missile defense pipe dream/defense contractor boondoggle.

We don't need this, people. No one is going to launch an ICBM at the United States anytime in the foreseeable future--even in the not-so-foreseeable future. Can you say military-industrial complex?

Monday, May 03, 2004

William Safire

Hast lost his fool mind. And he's a lying bastard.
Food or Gas?

In America, gas wins.

Well, not exactly. It's not like there are discount gas stores around for people to choose. The money's gotta come from somewhere. And it goes from Kellogg's to Malt-O-Meal.

Man, that MBA president sure is good for the economy, isn't he?
Media Matters

It does, indeed. And David Brock is on the ball:

"Welcome to Media Matters for America, a new Web-based, not-for-profit progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media. Because a healthy democracy depends on public access to accurate and reliable information, Media Matters for America is dedicated to alerting news outlets and consumers to conservative misinformation -- wherever we find it, in every news cycle -- and to spurring progressive activism based on standards and accountability in media."

Brock's book, Blinded by the Right, is still worth a read.

Just for you.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Bremer Hauled Off To Ministry Of Love

Returns; claims to "Love Big Brother."

All three regular readers of Punch and Jude might remember this post from Thursday about Proconsul L. Paul Bremer's February 2001 criticism of the Bush Administration--his critique was that the Bush people were ignoring terrorism. He was, of course, correct.

But Rove and the Gang just couldn't have that--no criticism of the Boy King and his minions, even if said critique occurred three years ago and was largely correct. So they took Bremer into the dungeons, and, somewhat predictably, he came out saying this:

'In a statement Sunday, Bremer said his remarks three years ago "reflected my frustration" that none of his commission's recommendations had been implemented by Clinton or the new Bush administration.

"Criticism of the new administration, however, was unfair. President Bush had just been sworn into office and could not reasonably be held responsible for the Federal Government's inaction over the preceding 7 months," Bremer's Sunday statement said.

"I regret any suggestion to the contrary. In fact, I have since learned that President Bush had shared some of these frustrations, and had initiated a more direct and comprehensive approach to confronting terrorism consistent with the threats outlined in the National Commission report.

"I am strongly supportive and grateful for the President's leadership and strategy in combating terrorism and protecting American national security throughout his first term in office."'

Bremer also said that, in addition to being grateful for the President's leadership, he did in fact love Big Brother. He also renounced as heretical the idea that the earth moves around the sun; denied that any elements exist other than earth, air, fire, and water; affirmed that he was in league with the devil; and urged the return to Year Zero.

Bremer's execution is set for Tuesday. He is to be burned at the stake on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster, which is now a subsidiary of Halliburton.
Bill Maher

On MSNBC's Hardball; he took it to Chris Matthews.

On the John Kerry medal/ribbon nonsense:

"'Why are you covering this? Why are you taking this bait, seriously? Why are you even letting them bait you into covering this complete non-issue? This guy has medals. his guy has ribbons. The other guy didn‘t go. That‘s the whole story.

The other guy is a draft dodger. They were both rich kids in the ‘60s. One of them went to where the bullets were flying and one of them found a way not to go and then he lied about that. Stop covering the medals.

Look, one guy went into the National Guard, which back then was a way of getting out of it. On top of that, he had the nerve to say to Tim Russert, 'You know, if my Guard unit had been called up, I would have gone.' How very brave, Mr. President, considering ... only 8,700 Guard people were ever called up there, 0.03 percent. So there was no chance he would have been called up.'"

The rest of it is really good, too. Which brings to mind a question: Why is it that comedians are the ones calling Bush on his nonsense? Maher, Jon Stewart, Chris Rock--these guys aren't journalists! Buth they're the ones asking the hard questions. They're the ones who don't stoop to the nonsensical drivel of, say, Jodi Wilgoren.

Any ideas?
Eric Margolis

Makes comparisons between Iraq and Afghanistan. The Afghanistan of the late 1970's and entire 1980's, that is. When the Soviets invaded, remember? To liberate the people? And fight Islamic fanatics?

I haven't mentioned Santayana in a while, but it seems apropos now.
More On Abu Ghraib

According to the New York Times, Brigadier General Karpinski refuses to take the fall for the abuse, rape, and torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. It must be so disconcerting to the top brass when those so ordered do not fall on their swords.

Not that she does not bear responsibility; she just is not solely responsible. She was, it seems, a weak, weak commander.

"General Karpinski, who has returned home to South Carolina and her civilian life as a business consultant, said she visited Abu Ghraib as often as twice a week last fall and had repeatedly instructed military police officers under her command to treat prisoners humanely and in accord with international human rights agreements.

"'I can speak some Arabic,' said General Karpinski, a New Jersey native who spent almost a decade as an active duty soldier before joining the Army Reserve in 1987. 'I'm not fluent, but when I went to any of my prison facilities, I would make it a point to try to talk to the detainees.'

"But she said she did not visit Cellblock 1A, in keeping with the wishes of military intelligence officers who, she said, worried that unnecessary visits might interfere with their interrogations of Iraqis."

Just so we've got this straight: she did not visit a part of a prison under her administration where the intel people were. It is a commanding officer's privilege and duty to inspect all of his or her command. A strong officer would have told the intel people to back off. However, it's quite probable that Gen. Karpinski didn't want to know about what was going on:

"She acknowledged that she 'probably should have been more aggressive' about visiting the interrogation cellblock, especially after military intelligence officers at the prison went 'to great lengths to try to exclude the I.C.R.C. from access to that interrogation wing.'"

The ICRC, of course, is the International Committee of the Red Cross. Ding ding ding! Red flag! They didn't want the Red Cross coming around, of course, because they were torturing prisoners. I'm a simple man--I went to public schools, and I possess no advance degrees--but I do have some idea as to why you'd want to keep a watchdog group away. Doesn't seem that difficult, does it?

Just so you don't think that this incident is isolated, or indicative of general American depravity, you should note that the Brits are also rather morally challenged in dealing with prisoners.

The Glasgow Sunday Herald article, unlike one in the NYT, is more lurid. Also, and more importantly, it talks of systemic abuse; for example, it quotes US Gen. Mark Kimmitt as saying: "I'd like to sit here and say that these are the only prisoner abuse cases that we're aware of, but we know that there have been others."
(Emphasis added)

Being a UK paper, the Glasgow Sunday Herald is free to editorialize in the news: for example, they refer to US soldier Lynndie England, who prominently figures in many of the photos, as being from a trailer park in West Virginia. I'll leave it to you to ponder the irony of the Scots calling others rednecks.

Seriously, though, the Glasgow paper gives a lot of detail about the private contractors in the prison--something notably absent from many of the stories on this issue in the US press. Notably, the Scottish story also talks about the link between the contractors and the Bush Administration. Consider:

"But these soldiers aren't simply mavericks. Some accused claim they acted on the orders of military intelligence and the CIA, and that some of the torture sessions were under the control of mercenaries hired by the US to conduct interrogations. Two 'civilian contract' organisations taking part in interrogations at Abu Ghraib are linked to the Bush administration.

"California-based Titan Corporation says it is 'a leading provider of solutions and services for national security'. Between 2003-04, it gave nearly $40,000 to George W Bush's Republican Party. Titan supplied translators to the military.

"CACI International Inc. describes its aim as helping 'America's intelligence community in the war on terrorism'. Richard Armitage, the current deputy US secretary of state, sat on CACI's board.

"No civilians, however, are facing charges as military law does not apply to them. Colonel Jill Morgenthaler, from CentCom, said that one civilian contractor was accused along with six soldiers of mistreating prisoners. However, it was left to the contractor to 'deal with him'. One civilian interrogator told army investigators that he had 'unintentionally' broken several tables during interrogations as he was trying to 'fear-up' detainees."

Really makes you proud to be an American, doesn't it?

Saturday, May 01, 2004

Investigative Journalism

The way it's supposed to be done.

Unlike the endless nonsense about peanut butter or ribbons vs. medals that many reporters, including much of the Washington press corps, so adores, Seymour Hersh actually engages in journalism. Shocking, I know. I don't think that Hersh is significantly smarter than most other journalists; however, he does seem to be far less lazy than a great number of the scribbling pollyannas whose dreck fills page after page each day.

"As the international furor grew, senior military officers, and President Bush, insisted that the actions of a few did not reflect the conduct of the military as a whole. Taguba’s report, however, amounts to an unsparing study of collective wrongdoing and the failure of Army leadership at the highest levels. The picture he draws of Abu Ghraib is one in which Army regulations and the Geneva conventions were routinely violated, and in which much of the day-to-day management of the prisoners was abdicated to Army military-intelligence units and civilian contract employees. Interrogating prisoners and getting intelligence, including by intimidation and torture, was the priority.

The mistreatment at Abu Ghraib may have done little to further American intelligence, however. Willie J. Rowell, who served for thirty-six years as a C.I.D. agent, told me that the use of force or humiliation with prisoners is invariably counterproductive. “They’ll tell you what you want to hear, truth or no truth,” Rowell said. “‘You can flog me until I tell you what I know you want me to say.’ You don’t get righteous information.”

Exactly. Also, when news of mistreatment of prisoners becomes public, and it will, it's simply bad--Bad for morale among the soldiers, bad for any captured Americans (present or future), bad for the US' reputation, and bad because WE PAID FOR IT.

Thanks to Billmon for the link.
Cracks In The Edifice, Part II

The American Conservative lives up to its name. Almost the entire magazine is devoted to delivering broadsides at the Bush Administration's Iraq war. "The No-Win War." That's some strong stuff.

Story via Cursor, which also directs us to the Christian Science Monitor. According to the CSM, it's a bad time to be an intellectual in Iraq--worse than under Hussein. I guess we can chalk up yet another success story for Bush's Vanity War, right?

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention:

Happy MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! Day, everyone!
Good News, Everybody!

California pimp-slaps Diebold. Electronic voting, they way Diebold does it, is some scary, scary stuff. It's important to have a paper record, don't you think?

If you want some scary reading on electronic voting, go to and do some looking around.

It's my opinion that vote-counting should be done by people. Nearly all of us learn to count, and thus the system is independently verifiable by almost everyone in the country. However, verifying votes electronically places the veracity of our election results in the hands of a very few individuals with the proper training--more importantly, it places those results in the hands of the bosses of those few with proper training.
The Stars At Night Are Big And Bright

Deep in the heart of Texas.

Also, 97-year-old women can get arrested for traffic warrants.

Why, in the name of all that is holy, would a cop handcuff a 97-year-old woman? I suppose we should be happy that she wasn't maced or clubbed.
A Good Reason

Why humans shouldn't have nuclear weapons at their disposal. In this touching article in the Boston Globe, we find, actually, TWO good reasons why we're just not equipped to handle atomic weaponry:

1. People have faulty reasoning and poor memories. "Charlie Dodd said 'certain people in Iraq' were responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks, and expressed anger at those who lack the will to retaliate: 'Memories in America are very short. It drives me nuts. Don't they remember the planes going into those towers?'"

2. Due to faulty reasoning, poor memories, and an astonishing capacity for misplaced vengeance, people can express (and, god forbid, act on) sentiments like this: "But across the room, Sheril Brambach responded fiercely: 'You ask me, we should blow that whole side of the map off.'"

It's impossible for me not to empathize with the people of Wellsburg, West Virginia. However, it's also impossible for me not to empathize with the people of Baghdad, who I really don't want erased from the earth--even the ones who might want that fate for me, Ms. Brambach, or anyone else.
Against The Grain

Dick Meyer calls a chickenhawk a chickenhawk.

It's past time for the press to throw the flag on Bush, Cheney, and the rest of the crew hypocritically assailing anyone else's patriotism. Not that military service is the go-no go test for such a thing; however, active avoidance of service coupled with sliming of people who went voluntarily and served with distinction, is something that our reporters should have been all over long ago. Like maybe in 2000, when the Bush people did the same crap to McCain.

Props to Meyer for quoting General Sherman.
Abu Ghraib

The Baltimore Sun has an article you should read. It seems that the blame for the torture of prisoners goes beyond the soldiers in the now-infamous photographs. Not that they aren't still culpable; but I would like to see all of the military intelligence, CIA, and "contractors" involved also have to pay.

Your tax dollars are going to pay for this:

"They stressed him out so bad that the man passed away," Frederick writes. The corpse was packed in ice and later prepared to suggest falsely that the prisoner had died under medical care: "The next day the medics came in and put his body on a stretcher, placed a fake I.V. [intravenous drip] in his arm and took him away. This OGA [prisoner] was never processed and therefore never had a number."